Monthly Archives: October 2012

Winterizing Your Boat Part 1

Unfortunately, the boating season is winding down in many parts of the country and it is time to start thinking about protecting your valuable recreational asset. Winterizing a boat reminds me of the old commercial that says “pay me now or pay me later.” The time and effort you spend now will have a definite effect on your boat’s performance, or lack of it, and certainly save you time, effort and money come spring. You should remember that your insurance policy may not cover damage done by lack of maintenance or neglect.

The best place for your boat to be during the winter is out of the water, under cover, in a climate-controlled boat storage area. This, however, can be expensive. If you don’t have this option perhaps you should consider shrink-wrapping your boat. This, too, is a little expensive but provides a very protective cover. Short of these two items, make sure that your boat is well covered with a tarp or some other sturdy cover.

Your first step in winterizing should be to make a checklist of all items that need to be accomplished. Check the owner’s manual of your boat and motor(s) for manufacturer’s recommendations on winterization. If you are a new boat owner, perhaps you should employ the assistance of a friend with experience in winterizing or hire a professional to do the job. The following is a generic outline of areas which should be of concern to you, however, there are many resources on the Internet with more detailed and specific information.

Inboard Engine(s) – You should run the engine(s) to warm it up and change the oil while it is warm. This tends to allow impurities to be drained away with the oil. You should also change the oil filter(s). Flush the engine(s) with fresh water. You should circulate antifreeze through the manifold by using a pickup hose from the waterpump to a bucket of antifreeze. Start the engine and allow the antifreeze to circulate until water starts to exit the exhaust. This process will vary slightly depending on whether you have a “Raw Water” cooling system or an “Enclosed Fresh Water” cooling system. While you’re in the engine room you should also change the fluid in your transmission. Remove spark plugs and use “fogging oil” to spray into each cylinder. Wipe down the engine with a shop towel sprayed with a little fogging oil or WD-40.

Stern Drive(s) – You should thoroughly inspect the stern drive and remove any plant life or barnacles from the lower unit. Drain the gear case and check for excessive moisture in the oil. This could indicate leaking seals and should be repaired. Clean the lower unit with soap and water. If your stern drive has a rubber boot, check it for cracks or pinholes. Grease all fittings and check fluid levels in hydraulic steering or lift pumps. Check with your owner’s manual for additional recommendations by the manufacturer.

Outboard Engine(s) – Flush engine with fresh water using flush muffs or similar device attached to the raw water pickup. Let all water drain from the engine. Wash engine down with soap and water and rinse thoroughly.

Fuel – Fill your fuel tank(s) to avoid a build up of condensation over the winter months. Add a fuel stabilizer (such as one found here) by following the instructions on the product. Change the fuel filter(s) and water separator(s).

Thanks to Jerry Turley, a member of the USCG Auxiliary, for pointing out that there are two theories on whether you should disconnect the fuel hose and run the engine until it stops or treat the fuel. Nissan recommends draining fuel for lay-up. Their purpose is to make sure that all fuel is drained from the carburetor to prevent build-up of deposits from evaporated fuel. Other manufacturers such as Mercury, OMC, Force and all recommend treating the fuel with a fuel conditioner and stabilizer, have a full tank, and running treated fuel into the engine prior to the balance of the winterizing process. The presence of treated fuel prevents the interaction with air. Also, the small amount of fuel left after draining does not have a chance to evaporate and form the “varnish” type residue. Fuel conditioners are available at marine dealers, marine stores and auto parts stores.

You should consult your owner’s manual for the manufacturers recommendations on how to handle fuel in your winterization process.

Use fogging oil in the cylinders to lubricate the cylinder walls and pistons. Apply water resistant grease to propeller shaft and threads. Change the gear oil in the lower unit. Lightly lubricate the exterior of the engine or polish with a good wax.

Neither Nautical Know How or the authors of additional information provided in the links in this article are responsible for damage or injuries that may occur as a result of this information.

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Port Condition Zulu

Sandy affecting the East Coast. Coast Guard sets port condition Zulu for the coastal waters of Virginia and Maryland…

USCG Sector Hampton Roads

At about 10:00 am yesterday we received the following announcement from the public affairs office of Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads in Portsmouth, Virginia.

The Coast Guard captain of the port has set Port Condition Zulu for the coastal waters of the eastern shore of Maryland and Virginia Saturday due to the approach of Hurricane Sandy.

Condition Zulu means gale force winds are possible within 12 hours.

In order to safeguard vessels, ports and waterfront facilities from damage due to Hurricane Sandy, the captain of the port is establishing a temporary safety zone that will close the coastal waters of the eastern shores of Virginia and Maryland from Cape Charles Light, Va. to the border of Maryland and Delaware and out 12 nautical miles.  The safety zone is in effect from 8 a.m. Sunday until weather subsides and verification of all navigational aids is complete.

Port Condition X-RAY remains in effect for all other waters within the Hampton Roads Zone including the ports of Hampton Roads and the Virginia waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

Facility operators and agents should contact Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads at 757-638-6641 to request permission for vessels to enter the port.

It is primarily the facility operator’s decision to allow vessels to remain moored during the passing of the hurricane.  Facilities that do not allow vessels to remain moored must provide them with sufficient notice to allow the vessels time to move to a safe mooring, hurricane anchorage or to depart to sea.

Facilities and vessels should communicate with each other regarding their plans.  Facility operators should continue making preparations to ensure all loose cargo, cargo equipment and debris are safely secured.  All vessel moorings should be reinforced.

Anchored vessels should prepare for severe winds.  Additional anchors should be made ready to let go, and preparations should be made to have a continuous anchor watch.  Also, boaters shall monitor VHF-FM channel 16.

The Coast Guard urges the public to listen to weather information available from other sources and not call the Coast Guard for weather-related information.  For additional information on the storm, visit the National Hurricane Center site at  Boaters can monitor its progress on NOAA weather radio.

Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF-FM channel 22A.

Mariners can view the latest port updates for Hampton Roads on the Coast Guard’s Homeport site.  Call 757-668-5555, option three, to reach the port condition hotline for a recorded message of current hurricane conditions.
The Port of Hampton Roads Maritime Heavy Weather Contingency Plan explains all port conditions and is available at

Visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website at to stay informed and for tips on how to prepare and plan for severe weather.

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Safety Factors to Consider for Off Season Boating

Autumn…  The summer sailors have packed it in, the tourists have gone home, and the deserted inland and coastal waterways are peaceful and relaxing – relaxing until you get into trouble that is.  Although most boating accidents occur in July during the height of the summer boating season, the potential for serious injury rises dramatically in the off-season when there are fewer boaters and law enforcement officers on the water to provide assistance, or rescue. U.S. Coast Guard 2011 national accident data show that approximately one in 10 boating accidents in July involved a fatality; in December it was just over one in four.  That’s something to think about.

Swamping, capsizing, and falls overboard, and the sudden storms that can cause them, become significantly more hazardous in the fall and winter when water temperatures drop. The key to avoiding a crisis is to be thoroughly prepared before going out. Here are some things you can do to maximize safety when boating in the off-season:

  • Dress in layers and take along extra clothing in a waterproof bag. Consider wearing a float coat/jacket.
  • Wear good quality, non-slip footwear; wear socks, even with sandals.
  • Take along a good first aid kit.
  • Put together a basic survival kit, including blankets, a VHF-marine radio, matches, disposable lighter, some dense-calorie food, and warm beverages like coffee or cocoa.
  • File a Float Plan.  Tell friends and family exactly where you’re going and when you plan to return.
  • Boat with at least one other person, two is better. If someone is injured or falls in the water, the other can summon assistance or help them back in the boat.
  • Consult a chart of the area where you’ll be boating.  Know where to wait for help and how to summon help, if you need it.
  • Take a boating safety course as well as a first aid and CPR course.

Peaceful surroundings and fall colors make the off season a great time to enjoy the nation’s lakes, coastal areas and waterways. The U.S. Coast Guard, along with other federal, state, local, and Canadian agencies, is working to improve safety on the water.  So enjoy the quiet beauty, but for the sake of you and your passengers also take the time to plan for seasonal conditions and emergencies.

 The U.S. Coast Guard reminds all boaters to “Boat Responsibly!” For more information and tips on boating safety, visit

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Port Condition X-Ray for Miami and Ft. Lauderdale

MIAMI — Effective 2 p.m. Wednesday, Captain of the Port (COTP), Capt. Chris Scraba, increased port conditions for the Port of Miami and Port Everglades to X-RAY, due to the expectation that gale force winds generated by Hurricane Sandy may arrive within 48 hours.

Waterfront facilities should be removing potential flying debris, hazardous materials and oil pollution hazards from dockside areas. Secure all hazmat and potential sources of pollution due to the potential for heavy rain run-off.

Vessels more than 500 gross tons should begin to make preparations to leave the port or request permission from the COTP to remain in port. Vessels unable to depart the port must contact the COTP and submit a safe mooring plan, in writing, prior to receiving permission to remain in port. Proof of facility owner/operator approval is required.

Inbound vessels unable to depart the port if Port Condition YANKEE is set, are advised to seek an alternate destination. Container terminal operators shall reduce general cargo container stack heights to no more than four high and hazardous material cargo container stacks to no more than two high, or propose alternate securing arrangements to the COTP.  The COTP may require additional precautions to ensure the safety of the ports and waterways.

Although not currently anticipated, should the storm track west, the COTP may close the Ports to incoming traffic as early as 8:00am on October 25, 2012. Broadcast Notice to Mariners will be used to announce impending port closures and any special conditions deemed necessary by the COTP.

Pleasure craft are advised to seek safe harbor. Drawbridges may not be operating as early as eight hours prior to the anticipated arrival of sustained gale force winds (39 mph) or when an evacuation is in progress.

The Coast Guard is reminding the public of these important safety messages:

  • Stay off the water.  The Coast Guard’s search and rescue capabilities degrade as storm conditions strengthen.  This means help could be delayed.  That is why boaters should heed weather watches, warnings and small craft advisories.
  • Evacuate as necessary.  If mandatory evacuations are set for an area, the public should evacuate without delay.  Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate those in danger during the storm.
  • Secure belongings.  Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or damage.  Trailerable boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding.  Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to secure life rings, lifejackets and smallboats.  These items, if not secured properly, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources to be diverted to ensure they are not actually people in distress.
  • Stay clear of beaches. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by hurricanes.  Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials determine the water is safe.
  • Be prepared. Area residents should be prepared by developing a family plan, creating a disaster supply kit, having a place to go, securing their home and having a plan for pets. Information can be found at the Nation Hurricane Center’s webpage.
  • Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of Hurricane Sandy through local television, radio and Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.

For information on how to prepare your boat or trailer for a hurricane, please click here.

For information on Hurricane Sandy’s progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s web page at the following link –

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Marine First Aid Kits

Keeping Well-Stocked for a Medical Emergency on the Water

Courtesy West Marine

Injuries on the water come in many forms and degrees of severity – from an embedded fishhook to broken bones.  Since medical attention is seldom close by, make sure you have a marine First Aid Kit that is well-stocked, up-to-date, and at the ready.

Tips for Building Your Own First-Aid Kit

Putting together your own marine First Aid Kit is easy enough to do. Start by stocking up on many of the same items you’d keep in your medicine cabinet at home, then take into account the added hazards of sun, wind, water, and water-related activity.

Consider any special needs, such as prescription medications that you or your passengers may require, and be sure to take extra to avoid getting caught short if your return is delayed. Once your kit is assembled, remember to check it each year at the start of boating season and replace any over-the-counter first-aid medications that are past their expiration date.

First-Aid Kit Basics

  • Stomach remedies to prevent or treat motion sickness, indigestion, diarrhea, or heartburn
  • Antihistamine, for allergic reactions
  • Sunblock, SPF 15 or greater
  • Insect repellant
  • Anti-itch lotion or cream for treating insect bites, sunburn, and other minor skin irritations
  • Pain/fever reducers, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, ketoprofen or naproxen
  • Adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  • Butterfly bandages and narrow adhesive strips, for gaping cuts
  • Individually wrapped, sterile gauze pads (2″ and 4″) to control bleeding
  • Hypoallergenic adhesive tape to hold a dressing or splint in place
  • Roll of absorbent cotton, as padding for a splint
  • Sterile roller bandages (2″ and 3″), at least 3 rolls, to support sprained muscles
  • Cotton-tipped swabs
  • Eye drops
  • Thermometer
  • Syrup of Ipecac – if instructed by medical personnel to induce vomiting
  • Antiseptic ointment, spray, or towelettes for cleansing wounds
  • Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection of minor wounds
  • Bottled water to rinse wounds
  • Clean towels (small and large), to control bleeding or as a wrap for ice
  • Chemical ice packs
  • Emergency phone numbers: doctor, pharmacy, poison control, etc.
  • First Aid handbook

Prepackaged First-Aid Kits

Prepackaged First-Aid Kits sold in drug stores, marine supply stores such as West Marine, or through online retailers are also a good choice and often come with convenient features, such as color-coding to match the nature of the injury.  Just be sure to choose one that is appropriate to the distance you plan to travel away from populated areas, and how quickly medical help is likely to arrive in the event of an emergency.

For personal watercraft, for example, a small kit for treating minor cuts and scrapes is probably adequate. For boating farther from shore, a more elaborate kit may be needed to render immediate first aid until medical help arrives. You’ll probably want to throw in an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) as well, so that help can locate your boat as quickly as possible.

Having a proper First-Aid Kit on board can help you render immediate emergency care, and sometimes even save a life.  It’s one of the safety-related items that Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons® vessel examiners discuss when conducting an annual Vessel Safety Check (VSC) on recreational boats.

You might also consider enrolling in a first-aid training course provided by the American Red Cross or community health associations in your area. Quick action may be required for such life threatening emergencies as heart attack, stroke, or seizures, as well as for more serious sprains, burns, puncture wounds, cuts and internal injuries.  It pays to know how to proceed.

Regardless of the supplies you have or your level of first-aid training, if you find yourself in a true medical emergency, seek help immediately.  Make sure you know how to summon emergency medical assistance by marine band radio, not just a cell phone. Prepare an emergency contact list before leaving home.

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Five Tips to Keep Winter Away From Your Boat Trailer

According to BoatUS, if your boat trailer is going to spend the off-season outside exposed to the elements, here are five tips to protect your investment and eliminate problems down the road.

A little spray will do you: Spraying lubricants such as WD-40 on metal trailer roller assemblies, winch gears and electrical connections will keep moisture away and rust at bay. It’s also best to take care of any rust spots now on the (galvanized) metal trailer frame: sand, prime and paint.

Don’t park under trees: Some boaters think their boat will be protected by storing it under trees but the opposite is true – ice, snow, and howling winter storms can snap off tree limbs which come crashing down. Falling leaves and needles can also stain boat covers and gelcoat, or make their way inside where they can block transom drain holes.

Turn it around in the driveway: If you’re going to leave the boat on the trailer in your driveway for the winter, face the hitch away from the street if possible, and put a lock on the trailer hitch. The name of the game in avoiding boat theft is to make your rig as difficult as possible to steal.

Take care of the tires: In addition to being a theft deterrent, removing the tires and storing them in the garage or shed will keep the sun from damaging them. With the tires off, this may also a good time to repack the bearings (Another thing you won’t want to do in the spring). Block the frame and secure plastic (contractor grade) trash bags over the hubs and brakes to keep them dry. If tires won’t be removed, position the trailer so that the tires rest on a piece of plywood or plank to prevent dry rot, and cover them (again with plastic bags) to keep the sun off and hubs and brakes dry. To avoid flat spots from happening, move the trailer periodically a few inches throughout the winter.

Help water drain: Keeping the boat and trailer rig in a slightly nose-high (bow up) position will allow water to drain out the transom drain hole. This can be easily done by placing a small block under the trailer jack. (Don’t forget to remove drain plug and tie it to the ignition key where you will find it in the spring). Also ensure that the boat’s cover is tight and periodically check inside throughout the winter – critters love to hide aboard boats and find them appetizing.

For more information on the BoatUS Trailering Club and all of the services provided, visit or call 800-395-2628.

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New Vessel Safety Requirements

Southeastern Coast Guard NewsThe Coast Guard will enforce new commercial fishing vessel owners and operators to comply to new commercial fishing mandates that went into effect, Tuesday, October 16.

“All commercial fishing, fish tender and fish processing vessels that operate or transit more than three nautical miles offshore need to demonstrate full compliance with all existing commercial fishing vessel safety regulations during a dockside safety examination,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Douglas Gross, a commercial fishing vessel safety examiner at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg’s Prevention Department.

To demonstrate compliance with this new requirement, fishermen are encouraged to contact Coast Guard fishing vessel safety examiners to obtain a Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Decal.

The examination requirement is one of several new mandates established by the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010. The act requires a mandatory safety examination for fishing vessels that operate beyond three nautical miles of the baseline regardless of whether the vessel is state-registered or federally documented. More information about this change and methods for achieving compliance can be viewed at

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BoatUS Reports Top Three Items Stolen from Boats Over the Winter

How to Prevent an Unwanted “Visit” or Boat Theft

Boats stored over the winter can be easy targets for thieves. Many boat owners don’t find out they have been a victim of theft until long after, often when spring preparations are being made. To help boaters, anglers and sailors deal with this consistent problem, the folks at BoatUS Marine Insurance have these tips for storing your boat this winter.

The top three most common items stolen from boats over the winter are:

  1. Electronics: To avoid a theft, it is worth your time and energy to remove electronics and store them at home. If they are permanently installed, record ownership information including model and serial numbers.  Photos may also assist with a potential recovery or insurance claim.
  2. Outboards: Small outboards should always be removed and stored in a secure location, such as your locked garage or basement. Larger outboards should have a lock installed.
  3. Outdrives: Again, the best way to avoid this type of theft is to remove the unit and store in a safe location and ensure the serial number is recorded. If it will not be removed, install an outdrive lock.

The name of the game in preventing theft is deterrence – anything to make your boat or equipment less attractive to thieves is the goal. Here are some general tips:

  1. If you are storing your boat away from home, ensure the yard or marina is secure with fencing and cameras.
  2. If you are storing your trailerable boat at home, if possible don’t leave the trailer tongue facing the street. Block the trailer and remove the tires, storing them inside, or add wheel locks. Put a lock on the hitch receiver.
  3. Adding personalized markings to equipment can help identify and recover stolen items. By making them obvious, it also makes the items less “marketable.”
  4. Don’t leave your dinghy on your club’s or marina’s rack unlocked or for long periods of time.
  5. Make periodic visits to your boat over the winter. If you can’t get to it, get a friend or yard worker to make a monthly visit.
  6. Leaving a “for sale” sign posted all winter attracts the wrong kind of attention and gives someone an excuse to get aboard and look around.
  7. BoatUS members can benefit from the BoatUS Theft Protection Program.
  8. What’s the most common type of boat stolen each year? Personal watercraft.
  9. Don’t forget that four-legged “bandits,” such as raccoons and other critters, will enjoy your boat as much as spring breakers hitting the beach, so ensure winter covers are tight and remain securely attached. Don’t store your boat in a place that makes it easier for animals to get aboard, such as near trees or building overhangs. Cover large exhaust ports. Don’t leave a ladder affixed to the boat.

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Stone Crab Season Opens October 15

The 2010-2011 season runs through May 15. FLORIDA KEYS — Bring on the dipping sauce! Starting Oct.15, stone crab claws, brought fresh to shore from Florida Keys waters, will be steamed, cracked, plated and served dipped in melted butter or a savory mustard sauce.

During the seven-month-long stone crab season, hundreds of thousands of pounds of Florida’s stellar crustacean will make their way from area waters to diners across the nation who hunger for their sweet, tender meat.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, about 40 percent of the state’s annual stone crab harvest of more than 3.1 million pounds comes from Keys waters, making this region Florida’s top supplier of the world-renowned delicacy.

One of the Keys’ most treasured dishes, stone crab claws are succulent and meaty — closer in size to a 2-pound Maine lobster’s claws than a blue crab’s claws.

The mouth-watering claws are typically cooked immediately after being brought to the dock, usually by placing them in salted boiling water for seven to eight minutes. The claws are then stored on ice before being transported to local markets and restaurants.

Steam, crack, plate and eat.Running cold water over the cooked claws keeps the meat from sticking to the shell — and Keys locals know the secret to cracking the claws open: throw out those fancy shell crackers and use the back of a spoon. Gently smack the shell and it will crack cleanly.

Stone crab claws are a renewable resource because the crabs can re-grow harvested claws. While both claws can be taken lawfully if each is of legal size, defined as a 2.75-inch propodus (the larger, immovable part of the claw’s pincer), harvesting only one claw is preferable for the crab’s protection and feeding ability. It is illegal to take claws from female stone crabs carrying eggs.

Several restrictions apply to the recreational harvesting of stone crabs. For more stone crab information, including rules governing recreational harvesting, visit the FWC website.

The 2011-2012 stone crab season continues through May 15.

To find out about Florida Keys accommodations and restaurants during stone crab season, explore this website and…if you happen to find yourself in the Miami area, Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant is celebrating their 100th anniversary.

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In-the-water Winter Lay-up

Below is an overview of winterizing pitfalls. Check back on this blog often as we soon will be posting an entire checklist for winterizing your boat.

Often, boat owners who visit their boats in early spring find their boats nearly under water.. They might or might not get a call from the marina to get down there right away to take care of their boat. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t make these mistakes which might cost you big bucks or your boat. Each year, as boaters everywhere prepare for winter lay-up, a thorough and well thought-out winterizing plan is often the difference between a boat that incurs damage in the off-season and one that’s sound and ready to launch in the spring. But with so many chores to keep track of, even the most organized boater is bound to forget a critical winterizing task or two.

Plan on visiting your boat regularly, at least once or twice a month.

A lot can happen in winter, from animals moving aboard to sudden leaks caused by expanding ice. If you can’t visit your boat frequently, consider using a buddy system with other boat owners. Another alternative is to ask your marina manager to keep an eye on the boat. Many marinas will inspect boats, although usually for a fee.

Did you add extra lines and chafe protection?

Blustery winter winds should never be confused with gentle summer breezes. All it takes is one good winter storm to abrade a dock line — and maybe bash a hole in the hull. If the boat is left in the water, double up on docklines and add chafe protection.

Don’t use your Biminis or dodger as a boat cover for winter. Biminis and dodgers are for sun and spray not for winterization. Winter is very hard on Biminis and dodgers causing premature replacement and possibly letting water or snow into your boat or cockpit.

Storing a boat in the water without a cover might result in it being underwater. Cockpits have drains that might clog up with debris causing the cockpit to fill with water, sinking the boat. Heavy snow could push a boat with low freeboard underwater.

Not closing sea cocks stored in the water. Too many things can happen to that seacock or the attached hose causing the boat to take on water.

Storing you boat on shore can freeze an engine block with an unexpected cold spell. Storing in the water may keep the engine block a little warmer.

Petcocks in the engine block may be clogged when you tried to drain the engine for winter. You might not realize that no water came out of the clogged petcocks. Be sure to visually check if water drains from each petcock. If you do have a clogged petcock a coat hanger works great clearing it.

Having the marina attendant look after your boat might be a good idea. No matter whom you pay to watch your boat it is always best to check on your boat periodically during the off-season. Nobody cares more for your boat than you.

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